Fall 1989, Volume 6.2
Poetry

WILLIAM KLOEFKORN

See other work by William Kloefkorn published in Weber Studies at:  Vol. 17.3Vol. 20.1, and Vol. 22.2.


Stopping the Tractor
 
With the Plowing Almost Done
To Chase a Rabbit
Later I'll blame it on the low August sun,
say, God Almighty it fried my sunflower brain,
but at the moment, chasing this young cottontail
slow-motion across a quarter-section of topsoil
soft as a featherbed, I want more than anything
to prove my boyhood, to see this animal hanging
upside-down, my fingers pulling its warm pelt
downward from hind leg to belly to throat,
but heaven help us all I have to catch it first,
and though the rabbit is tiring fast
I'm tiring, too, each of us it seems
decelerating equally, until the springs
some comic deity wound to the point of breaking
wind absolutely down, the animal stopping
precisely at the moment I desist,
not more than thirty feet of dark porous space
between us, neither boy nor rabbit
capable of one more step of flight or of pursuit,
though I have in my right hand a ballpeen,
in my left a boxend wrench, and I throw them
wildly, the rabbit with its wide eyes
following each demented arc, until at last I
shake my head to clear it, and suddenly then
this idiot lust is gone, gone too the ballpeen
and the wrench, buried beyond recovery,
and I'm laughing when I turn around to see
the John Deere wavering in the sun,
wavering and popping stoutly in the sun,
and remembering the date I have not long from now
I walk slow-motion to where the plow
sits patient in the furrow,
the slow and rippling shadow
of a hawk becoming slowly larger,
slowly, like the gathering of evening, darker.

Legend


If rain is falling while the sun
is shining, you know that somewhere
the Devil is beating his
wife.—southcentral Kansas saying
And you can imagine the wife
early in the morning
watching the weather report
and biting her tail
and saying Oh, Hell, not again,
can imagine her wondering
what the deuce such
an odd circumstance of cloud and of sun
has to do with a whipping. Each time
she searches her memory for a clue:
surely, she thinks, way back
in those halcyon days
of wine and of thornless roses
I must have done something
strictly and femininely wrong. But
though nothing of the sort
registers on her mind,
she accepts nonetheless as gospel
that she did it,
and when her beloved
tosses the stub of his Roi-Tan
into a cauldron and
takes her by the wrist
to bend her wing so impossibly high
behind her back
to strike her with the strop
he'll use tomorrow morning
to put a keen edge on his razor
she'll take her solace
in knowing how much a fiction
all this hullaballoo of Hades really is,
herself especially,
because the Devil never took a wife
and never will, she the victim
of a Jayhawk imagination,
sunflower boys with peewee peckers for brains,
and knowing this she smiles almost
all the way to laughter,
the strop meanwhile
on the verge of drawing blood,
the menfolk meanwhile
vast and alone on the plains,
picking their teeth with slivers of pine
and squinting their ancient eyes
beyond the clouds that are
dropping the rain
into a bright if
not altogether
blinding sun.